There’s no denying that the Castlevania games on the DS rock. What they provide is hardcore 2D platforming and fighting gameplay which doesn’t pull any punches in difficulty terms. These games are tough and not through bad level design, but because Konami know how satisfying it is when you finally beat one of the bosses. Order of Ecclesia breaks away from the setting of Dracula’s castle and indeed the Belmont family. You now play as Shonoa, a member of the order without a magical whip, but with the ability to absorb glyphs and turn them into magical powers and weapons. You can assign two glyphs at once and use them with the X and Y buttons to deliver some nifty little combos.
At the beginning of the game another member of the order goes rogue and you go about trying to stop him. Eventually you do end up in Dracula’s castle and you get there by playing through levels which appear on a map, instead of by exploring the twisting corridors of the dusty castle. Although it’s refreshing to see the game take this turn, I much prefer the exploratory gameplay of Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin, where you would gain new abilities which let you get to new areas further back in the game map you couldn’t reach before. And if you thought those games were tough, this one will slam you head into the mud and step on it until you drown. It’s super tough and the boss battles will make you want to throw your DS. I had to stop myself doing this on the plane on the way to my holiday for fear of being arrested by the air marshal.
As you go on your adventure you also rescue villagers, who then return to the town. Between levels or if you use a magical ticket mid-level if you’re low on energy, you can go back to the town and trade with them to help you get even further into the game.
Once again, the presentation is top-notch. This has to be the best looking Castlevania yet on the DS and the music really gets you into the spirit of chopping up those skeletons and zombies. Talking of enemies, there are some old favourites you’ll recognise from previous games, and a fair few new ones, each with their own attack patterns and lovely gory detail.
There’s plenty of hours of gameplay here too, and of course, once you finish it there’s other things to do which I won’t explain here as I don’t want to spoil the surprise. It’s fair to say if you liked the other Castlevania games on the DS, you’ll want this one too. Just be warned, it’s super tough and the boss battles can frustratingly go on for some time. Personally, I preferred the gameplay of Portrait of Ruin so Order of Ecclesia gets and excellent 8 out of 10.